The U.S. House has agreed to up the cap it put on defending the Defense of Marriage Act raising the figure from $500,000 to $1.5 million. This new agreement also opens the door for further rises.
This to pay House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) lawyers with whom the House has contracted to defend the constitutionally suspect Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
According to recently approved contract modificationdated Sept. 30, House General Counsel Kerry Kircher has agreed to pay Bancroft LLC private attorney Paul Clement a sum not to exceed $750,000 to defend DOMA, but this cap may be raised to $1.5 million under written notice.
“It is further understood and agreed that, effective October 1, 2011, the aforementioned $750,000.00 cap may be raised from time to time up to, but not exceeding, $1.5 million, upon written notice of the General Counsel to the Contractor specifying that the General Counsel is legally liable under this Agreement for a specific amount,” the contract modification states.
In addition to raising the cost cap to $1.5 million, the contract modification also opens the door for further increases upon agreement of the parties involved.
“In no event shall the cap exceed $1.5 million without a written agreement between the parties with the approval of the Chair of the Committee,” the contract modification states.
The modified agreement is signed by House general counsel Kerry W. Kirchner and lead counsel for Bancroft Paul Clement.
Boehner’s spokespeople are reiterating that these funds will simply be rerouted from the Department of Justice, however when the House first made this claim the DOJ said that the funds it would have used to defend DOMA in court have already been appropriated for other work, leaving a question mark as to where exactly the money is coming from.
Democratic legislators recently wrote to Boehner for a third time to urge him to explain where exactly the money to defend DOMA is coming from and to discuss the discriminatory and discredited arguments that Clement and his team have put forward in order to defend DOMA.
A spokesperson for House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was particularly critical. Via the Advocate:
On Tuesday, a spokesman for House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the new cap “absolutely unconscionable.”
“At a time when Americans are hurting and job creation should be the top priority, it just shows how out of touch House Republicans have become that they would spend up to $1.5 million dollars to defend discrimination in our country, “¯ Pelosi deputy press secretary Drew Hammill said.
You may remember that in June Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced an ethics complaint against Speaker Boehner (R-OH) regarding his appropriating funds for a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act without knowing where those funds could be taken from, something that CREW says violates the Antideficiency Act. You can read more on that here.
Given that the original contract was made in April and the House has already seen fit to raise the cap on DOMA spending, as well as the fact that there are several ongoing DOMA cases working their way through the courts, it seems salient to ask how much is Boehner really prepared to spend — of taxpayer money no less — to defend a law that arbitrarily discriminates against same-sex couples?